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At Burford School we aim to develop a love of books and encourage children to read for enjoyment across a range of genres. Reading is clearly linked to all aspects of learning. It is a complex accomplishment and we believe learning to read is a life-long continuous process. It is important to recognise that it consists of two dimensions, word reading and comprehension. Competence in both is vital to enable pupils to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. We teach children how to use a range of strategies (semantic, syntactic and phonic) to decode accurately when reading. In KS1 phonic strategies are taught as separate lessons, using systematic synthetic phonics.


Through structured whole class guided reading sessions, we develop the five key comprehension skills using VIPERS (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval, Sequencing/Summarising) to enable children to read with confidence and understanding.


Resources to support your child at home with both phonic and comprehension skills can be found by clicking on the curriculum evening tab in this section of the web site. There are also links below with tips on great books to read, how to read with your child and how to write a book review.


At Burford School, our books are now mostly colour coded according to the general reading stages used by Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cat. We not only include books by these publishers, but also books from other publishers, in order to provide a wider reading experience for the pupils (this is based on the work of Cliff Moon).


Each stage has its own specific colour level which children progress through. The books vary in a number of ways, including layout, size, genre, vocabulary and length. The difference between each colour band/number stage is very gradual, so that children do not experience great difficulty moving up through the scheme. Banding of the books is not an exact science and often a ‘best-fit’, particularly with books that do not belong to a scheme. Once children reach red stage, they are considered to be reading fairly fluently and with good understanding. It is then important to ensure that they read a wide range of material and genres. Each of the Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond and Pearl levels will contain one or two boxes with a mix of fiction and non-fiction books, covering a variety of genres such as autobiographies, information texts, traditional tales from other cultures, mystery stories, play scripts etc. Children will read a wide range of the books from each band before moving on to the next one in order to ensure coverage of genres (as required by the National Curriculum). Once children have reached purple they are free readers and encouraged to read a range of genres chosen on their own accord. (Teachers are more than happy to recommend a book or two!)


At Burford we believe that Reading is not a race, it is a journey. Children will of course have periods of growth with their reading, followed by periods of consolidation (which are necessary for a child to develop confidence in using and applying their newly acquired skills). Progress through the bands is not automatic and it is important to ensure that children have full and secure understanding as well as being able to decode the text, particularly as they move on to more challenging texts.


To support our pupils further we also have a range of books published by Barrington Stokes which are designed to break down barriers to reading that can be caused by dyslexia or by a simple reluctance to read.


Guided Reading


Guided reading occurs regularly throughout the week for every year group. Whole class texts are selected carefully by the year group teachers and is aimed to be accessed both with instruction and provide a degree of challenge.


For the student, the guided reading lesson means reading and talking (and sometimes writing) about a high-quality text. For the teacher, guided reading means taking the opportunity for careful text selection to develop decoding and comprehension skills.

Free ebooks and online reading material

Below are links to many free online books and links to authors reading children's books aloud.


1.Collins Big Cat books:

Go to the teacher portal


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